The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the National Working Group on Advanced Education. The Working Group’s mission is to promote research, policies, and practices that will develop the full capacities of students with high academic potential, especially Black and Hispanic students and those coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Members of the twenty-person Working Group include academics, practitioners, and advocates and represent diversity in terms of ideology, race, gender, and geography. It will meet four times over the course of the next year, with two goals in mind:
- Developing a robust research agenda. The Working Group will study the extant research on policies and practices that advance high-potential students, especially those from disadvantaged communities. It will also identify gaps in our knowledge, especially when it comes to ways to promote an excellence agenda without diminishing efforts to boost equity.
- Developing a policy and practice agenda. This is the Working Group’s most important task: to come up with a list of policies and practices that would advance the causes of equity and excellence, especially as it pertains to high-achieving, low-income students. It will address issues such as the expansion of gifted and talented programming, screening for such programs, admission into advanced courses, admission into exam schools, proper training for teachers, and more.
The members of the Working Group are listed alphabetically below.
Dina Brulles, Ph.D., is the director of gifted education in Paradise Valley USD in Arizona, as well as the gifted program coordinator at Arizona State University. Her work in these roles, along with her consulting and publications, emphasize and encourage inclusive identification practices and programming in gifted education. Dina serves on the NAGC Board of Directors as governance secretary and served two terms as school district representative. Dina coauthored several award-winning books in gifted education, receiving the 2019 and the 2020 NAGC Book of the Year awards. Her coauthored books include the following: A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning; Designing Gifted Education Programs: From Purpose to Implementation, Differentiated Lessons for All Learners; The Cluster Grouping Handbook; Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classrooms; Helping All Gifted Children Learn; Understanding and Using the Naglieri General Ability Tests: A Call to Equity in Gifted Education; and the Naglieri Ability Test–Verbal (2021).
Homero Chavez is director of the Early College Program at the Gadsden Elementary School District 32 in the border city of San Luis, Arizona. The program offers advanced academic opportunities and educational experiences for high-performing students from fifth through eighth grade. Since 2007, the Early College Program has helped more than 2,000 students take college-level algebra up to precalculus for college credit and has sent over 1,500 students to the Center for Talented Youth’s three-week Summer Residential Program at Johns Hopkins. Students take the ACT as early as in fifth grade. The Early College Program has received many recognitions including the 2022 Magna Award for equity work by the National School Boards Association (NSBA).
Nicholas Colangelo is author of numerous articles on counseling gifted students and the affective development of the gifted and accelerated. He edited three editions of the Handbook of Gifted Education (with Gary Davis). He coauthored A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students (with Susan Assouline and Miraca Gross). He served on the editorial boards of major journals, including Counseling and Development, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal of Creative Behavior, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, and Roeper Review. He has presented a number of research papers at national and international conferences and has been a keynote speaker on numerous occasions.
Dr. Jonathan Davis is a researcher and advocate who employs robust mixed-methodological designs to investigate, interrogate, and disrupt inequitable K–12 schooling conditions that delimit postsecondary choices and opportunities for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Dr. Davis is the director of research at The Equity Research Cooperative and most recently served as a senior P–12 research associate at The Education Trust.
Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Chester E. Finn, Jr., scholar, educator, and public servant, has devoted his career to improving education in the United States. At Fordham, he is now distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus. He’s also a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Finn has served on numerous boards, including the National Assessment Governing Board (which he chaired) and the Maryland State Board of Education (where he was vice-chair) and currently serves on the National Council on Teacher Quality, the Core Knowledge Foundation, and Maryland’s Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.
Laura Giuliano is a professor of economics at the University of California–Santa Cruz and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has also held positions at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, the University of Miami, and the University of Virginia. In 2015–16, she served as senior economist for labor, education, and welfare for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Her research includes impact evaluations of advanced academic programs and of policies that increase access to these programs for underserved groups; she has published on these topics in the American Economic Review and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Jennifer Glynn is an independent consultant to educational leaders, practitioners, and researchers working to increase college completion for historically underserved groups, including students of color and those from economically disadvantaged households. She has previously held positions as director of research and evaluation at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and as senior associate at Abt Associates. Her publications include Small Town, Big Talent, which highlights promising practices in rural communities to serve advanced students, and True Merit, which analyzes how the admissions process at selective colleges and universities impacts high-achieving, economically disadvantaged students. Her research has been published in the New York Times, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, the Atlantic, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Tarek C. Grantham
Tarek C. Grantham, Ph.D., is professor of educational psychology at the University of Georgia (UGA). Dr. Grantham serves as coordinator for the Gifted and Creative Education Graduate Program, and he codirects Project U-SPARC: University-School Partnership for Achievement, Rigor, and Creativity. Dr. Grantham’s research addresses equity for underrepresented groups in advanced programs. He has published numerous articles and three coedited books, including Recruiting, Retaining, and Engaging African-American Males at Select Public Research Universities: Challenges and Opportunities in Academics and Sports (2018), Young, Triumphant, and Black: Overcoming the Tyranny of Segregated Minds in Desegregated Schools (2013), and Gifted and Advanced Black Students in School: An Anthology of Critical Works (2011). He is an advisory board member for the University System of Georgia’s African American Male Initiative at UGA, and he is a member of the board of directors for the National Association for Gifted Children.
Jason A. Grissom is Patricia and Rodes Hart professor of public policy and education and (by courtesy) of political science at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. He also serves as faculty director of the Tennessee Education Research Alliance, a research-policy-practice partnership that produces research to inform Tennessee’s school-improvement efforts. His research on gifted identification and gifted students’ outcomes has appeared in such outlets as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, AERA Open, and Harvard Educational Review. An AERA Fellow and past editor of Educational Researcher, he is the current president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP).
Hilde Kahn is the parent of three Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology graduates and served for nine years on the board of the school’s private foundation. Her novel Head of School probes issues of equity, race, and privilege.
Paula M Olszewski-Kubilius
Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius is the director of the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University and a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy. Her most recent works include two coedited books with Rena Subotnik and Frank Worrell: The Psychology of High Performance: Developing Human Potential into Domain-Specific Performance, published by the American Psychological Association, and Talent Development as a Framework for Gifted Education, published by Prufrock Press. She has served as editor of Gifted Child Quarterly, coeditor of the Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, and editorial review board member for Gifted and Talented International, The Roeper Review, and Gifted Child Today. She is currently vice-chair of the board of trustees of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and a past president of the Illinois Association for the Gifted and the National Association for the Gifted.
Scott J. Peters is a professor of educational foundations at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, where he teaches courses on gifted education, educational assessment, and research methods. He has presented at the state, national, and international levels on topics dealing with gifted education, educational policy, and research methodology and currently serves on committees and as an officer of the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted, the National Association for Gifted Children, and the American Education Research Association. He is the past recipient of the Feldhusen Doctoral Fellowship in Gifted Education, the NAGC Research an Evaluation Network Dissertation Award, the NAGC Doctoral Student of the Year Award, the NAGC Early Scholar Award, and the UW–Whitewater Innovation and Outstanding Research Awards.
Michael J. Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a distinguished senior fellow for the Education Commission of the States. An award-winning writer, he is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma, editor of Education for Upward Mobility, and coeditor of How to Educate an American. Petrilli helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and the Policy Innovators in Education Network. He serves on the advisory boards of the Association of American Educators, MDRC, and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Jonathan Plucker, the Julian C. Stanley endowed professor of talent development at Johns Hopkins University, works in both the Center for Talented Youth and School of Education. He is the current president of the National Association for Gifted Children. His research examines education policy and talent development, with over 200 publications to his credit and over $40 million in external funding to support his work. His recent books include the third edition of Critical Issues and Practices in Gifted Education, with Carolyn Callahan (Prufrock Press); From Giftedness to Gifted Education, with Anne Rinn and Matt Makel (Prufrock); and Excellence Gaps in Education, with Scott Peters (Harvard Ed Press). He is an APA, APS, AERA, and AAAS Fellow and a recipient of the 2012 Arnheim Award for Outstanding Achievement from APA and of the 2013 Distinguished Scholar Award from NAGC.
Sneha Shah-Coltrane is currently the director of advanced learning and gifted education at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). She works with public school districts, teachers, policymakers, families, colleges/universities, and other advocates of gifted education to ensure that the needs of gifted learners are most effectively met in the state of North Carolina. She has been in this position since 2009.
Adam Tyner is national research director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where he spearheads new research projects, writes commentary, and collaborates with external scholars. Prior to joining Fordham, Dr. Tyner served as senior quantitative analyst at Hanover Research, where he executed data-analysis projects and worked with school districts and other education stakeholders to design custom studies. He has also spent several years leading classrooms, teaching English as a second language in China and California and teaching courses at the University of California–San Diego.
Jonathan Wai is assistant professor and the endowed chair in education policy in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and holds a joint (courtesy) appointment in the Department of Psychology. His research examines how individual and contextual factors collectively impact the development of educational and occupational expertise across a variety of domains. Broadly, he studies education policy through the lens of psychology.
April Wells is an educational consultant, conference presenter, and author. She is the gifted coordinator in Illinois School District U-46, where she facilitated the redesign of the district’s gifted program. April serves on the board of directors for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Her work has served as inspiration for other organizations highlighting universal screening, talent development, and the use of local norms for gifted programming. She has presented extensively at conferences. She is a national consultant and professional-development trainer whose message centers around the equity imperative. She received one of the 2018 Gifted Coordinator Awards from the National Association for Gifted Children. Her first book, Achieving Equity in Gifted Programming: Dismantling Barriers and Tapping Potential, was published in January 2020.
Brandon Wright is the editorial director of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is the coauthor or coeditor of three books: Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Students (with Chester E. Finn, Jr.), Charter Schools at the Crossroads: Predicaments, Paradoxes, Possibilities (with Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Bruno V. Manno), and Getting the Most Bang for the Education Buck (edited with Frederick M. Hess). His writing has appeared in places such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, U.S. News, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, National Review, Newsweek, Education Next, Education Week, Phi Delta Kappan, the Journal of School Choice, and dozens of state newspapers.
Joshua Wyner is founder and executive director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute, where he also serves as a vice president. The program aims to advance higher-education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Josh has spent the past two decades initiating organizations aimed at improving and equalizing educational outcomes. He has authored numerous publications about education, including a book: What Excellent Community Colleges Do: Preparing All Students for Success (Harvard Education Press, 2014). He has a B.A. from Vassar College, a MPA from Syracuse University, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.